Alan's story

Seven years ago I was working as a teacher’s aide in the special education unit of a high school. It was there that I met children who were in foster care.

I’m a single dad with a teenage son and I decided I could do something to help.

The first foster child I took in was a boy I had been working with at school. So you could say I took my work home with me.

I offer help and care in a number of ways for a mix of kids. Like short term, respite and emergency care when it’s needed.

At the moment I have one teenager, who's about to turn 16 living with us for long term at home, and three younger boys who come separately on alternate weekends.  So I normally only have one weekend a month without a visit from a child needing respite care.

Yes, it's a busy life but so rewarding.

It’s a chance to give other carers a break and the kids really enjoy coming over for a weekend to stay with my son and I.

Teenager with hat looking up to sky

The most fulfilling part of being a foster carer is watching the children move on and return to their families. Also seeing them grow into adults, living independently and working.

The ultimate goal is to get the children back to their families where they should be. It’s hard to see them go but knowing they are back with family and everything is okay – that’s the goal.

You give them guidance and then stand back and see them move on – that’s fantastic.

A lot of the lads who have stayed with us still stay in contact.

Another boy  was like a dream. He couldn’t have been better. He really just needed a guardian. He’s a brilliant boy and we keep in contact.

"One of the boys recently showed up with a leg of pork just to say hello. So I must have done something right!"

You boy playing with an Australian Rules football

I try to match the boys who come to stay with us with my son’s personality and interests. For me, my son will always come first. It’s been a really good experience for my son but, of course, there have been some struggles. The majority of times things have been fantastic. And the boys have all been like brothers.

My son hears the experiences of the boys in our home. They talk, so he has more life experience and empathy than most boys his age. They keep in touch.

The children we’ve cared for, they seem to fit in well with extended family, my friends and our social life. A lot of activities revolve around the kids. One of the boys I looked after played AFL and it became a family activity.

My case worker at Anglicare has been so supportive throughout it all. Nothing’s ever too much trouble for them. They are really good and they also match the kids with my son really well.

If there are any problems there is always support there and they are on to any issues quickly.

I found the process to become a carer very thorough. The application process was pretty long and took about six months and there was a lot to go through but I understand why. They have got to make sure people are doing it for the right reasons.

Even though I’m working and being a full time dad plus a foster carer who also offers respite care, I still manage to play sport regularly. When I get the chance, I love heading off on my own on my motorbike.

That’s my pleasure and my ‘me time’. That’s what I like about looking after the older kids. It fits in with my life.

*To protect the identities of the children and carers in these stories, names and images have been changed.

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